Play mystLY For Me – Dave Graney and The mystLY (self released)
Don’t call it cabaret. Dave Graney makes reference to the tag on one of these tracks, pointing that he and his band, the mystLY, would be on a higher pay-scale, and no doubt playing in a different class of gin joints, if that’s what they were.
In longevity terms, Graney is an “elder statesman” of the Australian music scene. He was a punk. He existed as expatriate dirt amid critical acclaim in London. He came home, entered the major label lifestyle for a time, became our King of Pop and decided that he could get along just fine on his own terms, playing music that didn’t fit radio programing templates.
So what is his style and what’s “Play mistLY For Me” all about? Last question first.
This is a live album (digital download only) tracking three configurations of the mistLY at Australian venues in Adelaide, Newcastle, Katoomba and Melbourne. Those rooms range from European-style cafes to modestly-sized pubs.
You get 14 tracks for your virtual money. Sonically speaking, they’re good quality audience recordings with the attendant atmosphere. No desktapes and certainly no overdubs.
Fans will know the songs (“You Wanna Be Loved”, “You Wanna Be There But You Don’t Wanna Travel”, “I’m Not Afraid To Be Heavy”, “The Brother Who Lived”, “Apollo 69”) spanning Dave’s lots of phases of post-Moodists career.
As to what it is…
Graney and key collaborator, drumming wife Clare Moore, dig deep into all kinds of music when they’re away from the stage. Stuff like funk, jazz, Francophile lounge and soundtrack noir. Rock and roll, of the heroic kind, is in there too.
The relatively sparse arrangements employed by the mystLY’s combinations of guitarist Stuart Perera, bassist Stu Thomas, pianist Mark Fitzgibbon, Graney (electric or acoustic guitar) and Moore (drums, percussion or keys) allow the songs to breathe. In many cases they take on a distinctively different character to their original persona.
The common element is Graney’s idiosyncratic vocal, where his phrasing carries the melody or wraps itself around the notes. Dave tells stories using clever lyrical turns.
So it’s pop music, Jim, but not as many old rock dogs know it.
Subtsnatial numbers of the people who got on the bus when "I'm Gonna Release Your Soul" was charting got off many stops ago, anyway.
“Play mistLY For Me” is anarchic in the sense that it lives outside the mainstream industry bubble. It’s also music where you need to listen closely to the playing and the words to get the vibe.
In some ways you can parallel the Graney evolution, from major label rock artist to self-sufficient and self-styled cottage industry creator, to that of Jonathan Richman. Both show you don’t need extreme volume and distortion to make your point and you can imbue your music with a sense of humour.
“Play mistLY For Me” isn’t about to knock Rihanna or Kanye off their perches but they're not real people anyway, are they?